Sonny (2002) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

sonny (2002) marks Nick Cage's directorial debut, and, by most accounts, was not a big success. It is the story of a male hooker, James Franco, who is discharged from the Army, and stops in to see his mother, who brought him into the life. Mamma now has Mena Suvari working for her, and expects to double her income when Sonny returns to his old line of work. He has other plans. He wants to go to Texas, and work in a book store owned by the father of an Army pal, but when he gets there, the store has been sold to pay off some debts. While he's there, his Texan friend sets him up on a date with a local girl (Josie Davis). The two end up in bed, and those go smoothly until he catches her guzzling codeine cough syrup in the bathroom, which causes him to go postal. He realizes that "squares" are at least as fucked up as people he knows "in the life". He returns to the Big Easy, and starts doing tricks, alone and as Suvari's partner.


  • Heavy, 63 year old, Brenda Vaccaro shows about 34 pounds of her left breast.
  • Janet Shea shows breasts
  • Josie Davis shows rather large natural breasts, as well as  buns and pubic area when Franco throws her to the bathroom floor.
His tricks include former Midnight Cowboy star Brenda Vaccaro, now 63 years old, but playing almost the same role she played in Midnight Cowboy. Cage himself plays Acid Yellow, a stoned gay pimp.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director Nicolas Cage and producer Norm Golightly

  • Commentary by writer John Carlen

  • Theatrical trailer(s)

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

The dramatic conflict comes from Suvari's efforts to convince Franco that the two of them should get out of the life and make a fresh start together, while mamma tugs on them both to stay and support her.

Cage, in a feature length commentary, seems to be the one fan of the film. The transfer looks great, and some of the locations were very good, especially in New Orleans, but I couldn't relate to the main characters, and hence never had any emotional involvement in the film. Also, some scenes were horribly over-acted. Not everyone can effectively chew the scenery as Cage can.

Scoop's notes in yellow:

It's basically a Tennessee Williams concept updated to the new millennium: people trying to keep the dignity and self-respect of their lives in a profession that tends to snuff out the brighter angels of our nature. It had some moments, but Nic Cage made some directorial choices which just didn't work:

1. He exercised no control (or the wrong control) over the actors, and several scenes are delivered with a hysteria which seems unnecessary and inappropriate for the circumstances. Cage himself turned in one of the sillier performances as a gay pimp in a yellow Huggy Bear suit, but Franco and Brenda Blethyn were the main scenery-chewers.

2. He used some kind of blurring technique to show Franco's drunken perspective, and it came off about as sophisticated as the acid trip in Easy Rider.

Just in passing, I wonder if any actor has ever gotten so much mileage out of an extended celebrity impression as Franco has gotten out of "doing" James Dean?

You might fairly infer from some things I wrote above that the film is very old-fashioned and rhetorical. Imagine James Dean acting in a Tennessee Williams play in 1954 or 55, add color, and you'll have a very accurate picture of what it is like.

I did think that ever-dependable Harry Dean Stanton and ever-improving Mena Suvari managed to deliver credible characters by using understatement. They gave performances from which the other cast members might have learned something.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • Box office mojo reports a total gross of $30,000 in six theaters. The budget was $4,000,000.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "all in all, this is a C-, but I hope we will see much better from Cage the director in the future." Scoop also feels that C- reflects the proper score.

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